Small Businesses

Discussion in 'Shopping & Sales' started by Mal Campbell, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Mal Campbell

    Mal Campbell Well-Known Member
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    It seems, at least where I live, that small businesses are slowing going the way of the dinosaur. I remember a time when you would drive to the shopping district and there would be all types of small stores. Now matter what hobby or interest or need you had, there was a store that carried what you needed, and they had people who knew something about the items.

    Today, if you can't get it at the big box store, you're basically screwed. You can go online and find just about anything, but you don't get the customer service or expert advice that you used to get. And there are just some things that you need to see and feel, in person.

    Does anyone else feel the loss of small businesses? Do you think we will ever get back to a point where they come back?
     
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  2. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    I think the internet has changed the way we do business so much it will never be the same. We purchase so much online these days the offline merchant is struggling to get a slice of the pie. I has changed and it changed very quickly.
     
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  3. Ruth Belena

    Ruth Belena Active Member
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    My great grandfather started his own retail business, selling gentlemen's clothing. The business passed down through the generation and expanded into several local outlets. My cousin, who is of a similar age to me, inherited from his father and ran the business for a while, but then he decided to sell all the retail units, because he found it hard to keep the business going.
     
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  4. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    I agree the small businesses are having a difficult time but at least they are giving it a go. I see the a lot of vendors that use to have their own businesses making a go at the flea market that I go regularly to. I have gotten lots of free advice there too.

    It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of entrepreneurs go back to working out of their homes doing whatever they specialized in, you know like the mechanic who works in his garage.
     
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  5. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    There are actually several small businesses left in my area. Some come and go, but many have been around for years. I was telling my son yesterday that the comic book store that had been here for decades finally closed up. He made a good point when he said that is because all that stuff is now online. There is no longer a need for things like record shops or comic book stores. It is true.

    We have all kinds of vintage type shops, if you like antiques or don't mind used things there are plenty of consignment shops here. The antique stores are around but they do pale in comparison to others I have been to in other states. I think some of the best ones were in Gettysburg PA. Talk about a business district that has embraced boutique type shops. I always said if I had the money I would so open a small shop there myself. Just have no idea what I would sell :D

    In this part on NY though, it is more flea market type shops. Now I like flea markets as do many people, but I have to tell you there some that are really junker then others. Such is the case in many of these establishments. In the Allentown district there are a few dress shops and art shops that are actually very impressive. Since I like to give gifts that are not so mainstream I sort of like these places. Yesterday I saw a stuffed piranha (yes the fish) teeth and all. I think my nephew the fish guy would like that. I can assure you there are none of those at the big box venues.
     
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  6. Richard Paradon

    Richard Paradon Well-Known Member
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    When I lived in the States I had a small high end furniture store and little by little the big boys would try to cut me out. They never succeeded, but the economy did. Here in Thailand, or at least in Pattaya, where I live, there are three major stores, Lotus, Big C and Macro. I try my best to avoid them for two reasons. The first is I am a believer in Mom and Pop places and the other is that I would rather spend my in a Thai concern rather than a foreign on. After all, Thailand is my host country so I feel I should support her.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    We have small businesses here because we're seventy miles away from any large ones, because the town is too small and impoverished to support the large ones. Ten years ago, we were involved in a local political fight against a group of people whose primary concern was to have the land surrounding our town turned into a National Park, which is still a threat, particularly with the Obama Administration. This group formed several non-profit organizations to lend support for one another, and to bring in grant money.

    One of the organizations they started was one that I might have supported, if not for the political connections, because it was a shop local campaign. The problem with such campaigns, however, is that they are political, and intended to make people feel good about themselves, rather than to bring about any actual change. Especially in an area where people don't have a lot of money, and whose jobs are always at risk, people aren't going to spend more money at a local concern when they can get the same thing cheaper from a chain.

    The local business has to offer something of value. Good service and the ability to do business with someone you know can go a long way, but it has difficulty competing with price and selection. Until recently, we had two local grocery stores, a Hannaford chain store and a locally owned IGA, but the IGA store recently went out of business and there is a Save-a-Lot store there now.

    During our political fight, I took pictures of three of the officers in the shop local organization wheeling full carts around in Sam's Club in Bangor. For those of you unfamiliar with Sam's Club, it's like a Costco, but owned by Walmart. We had two auto dealerships in town at the time, yet not a single one of the officers of this organization had purchased their cars locally. That made for a good article in our online newspaper, but the truth is that most everyone does the majority of their shopping in Bangor. Although it is seventy miles away, since we have no department stores in town, most people make at least one trip a week to Bangor, and that's where they do the bulk of their grocery shopping, going to the two local grocery stores only for incidentals or things that might come up during the week. When they do shop locally, they would usually go to Hannaford because, as a chain, they offered better prices and, being a larger store, they had a better selection. IGA is a chain of independently owned stores, but they don't have the purchasing power of Hannafords, apparently, because most things were more expensive at the IGA store.

    Other small businesses are indeed hurt by the Internet. Not long ago, every reasonably sized town had at least one bookstore, and there were even bookstores in some of the smaller towns. We once had one here in Millinocket and, until a few years ago, there was one in East Millinocket, seven miles away. Now, fewer people are reading, I'm afraid, and many of us who read do so on a Kindle or other electronic device, and when we buy printed books, we're more apt to buy them from Amazon.com.

    We have a couple of photography shops, an art gallery, a couple of hardware stores, and several woodworking shops in town, as well as several other small businesses, mostly established by people who have lost their job when the paper mill closed. Given our location at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and Baxter State Park, nearby, these businesses do okay during the summer and fall, but locals don't shop there much during the winter. The hardware stores do well throughout the year but the people who live here are not without skills, or the tools to make a lot of what they might need for themselves, and the more skillful craftspeople find that they can make more money if they set up shop in Bangor or somewhere near a larger population center.
     
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  8. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    Our town only has two "big box" stores, Walmart and Atwoods, but they have taken most of the business from the small stores with only a few remaining. A small engine shop, a feed store, and a local lumber store are the only small businesses we use regularly.
     
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  9. Lydia Williams

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    I'm definitely sad about the loss of small businesses. There are still quite a few small family owned businesses in my area and I try to buy from them when I can as I fee they need my custom more compared to cold corporate chain stores.
     
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  10. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    I actually wrote a paper about this for a marketing class many years back. I had moved back home (MA), and noticed the shops I'd grown up with were closing one by one, and being replaced by chain stores. Many of the mom and pop shops had been started by 1st generation immigrants, and I had gone to school with their children, and shopped at their stores, ate in the restaurants, etc. I loved the sense of community back then, and always knowing where to go when I needed something, such as the local cobbler shop when a heel was loose, or a purse strap broke. Nowadays, people throw away serviceable items, rather than repairing them, even while proclaiming that they care about the environment and are fans of recycling. I've seen my nieces tossing perfectly good, almost new clothing, in the trash, which in my eyes, is a crime.

    I do a lot of my shopping at Walmart, only because of budgetary constraints, but in between my major shopping trips, I supplement from the local IGA grocer, and some smaller shops nearby. I'm in a Facebook group for my neighborhood, and the members try to keep things within the group and/or our local community as much as possible, with regard to yard work, auto repairs, businesses owned by members, and the like, which I appreciate.
     
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